A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

January 10, 2017 Philosophy

???A picture paints a thousand words??™

???Artists can be influenced by their experience of the world and make artworks as a result???

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Artists live a life of their own, they express their feelings and experiences through the art of drawing and painting just as a poet expresses his feelings through poetry. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and Rene Magritte (1898-1967) are today recognized as some of the greatest painters in European art who in their life loved to express the world, their experiences and themselves through art

Vincent Van Gogh started his career as an artist in 1880; with the influence of art in his life from a young age as his family were art dealers. He started art as realism which is an artistic representation that imitates reality, and he did this in as great detail as possible. Soon after he decided he wanted to express how he felt through art and this is why his earlier pictures are a collection on dull and earthy tones. Vincent suffered great depression in his life which was a result of him ???failing??? in careers and love.

In the late 19th century Paris was the centre of the art world- every ???ism of the new revolution in art was spreading out from Paris. The impressionist movement influenced Van Gogh style greatly as he came in contact with artists such as Monet, Pissarro and Sisley, as he met these artists he learnt to appreciate and use extensively the style of impressionism in his own work. Vincent himself also began experimenting with the open air way of painting favored by Impressionists. Though all these styles were going on in Paris, Van Gogh developed his own style.
Impressionists turn against academies and take on a style of art for their own work.
In the 1850??™s Japan borders opened up to foreigners and they started trading with the outside world. 1867 Japanese art came to France- the artworks were very exotic with strong colors, decorative design and flattened perspective and this became a special importance for Vincent and he started to collect Japanese prints. He wrote to his brother Theo about how the Japanese art made him feel much gayer and happier. His artwork then became very influenced by Japanese art and he began to incorporate it into his style because of the profound way it depicted nature and because of the way it impacted his mood. His earlier paintings of peasant life and dark somber scenes were very different to the paintings he painted in Paris, because of the Japanese art influence and the delightful rich colours. He started to paint black lines in his art which was adopted by Japanese art; this set him apart from impressionists who banished black from their pallet.
Vincent painted sunflowers again and again in his life, he said ???instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before my eyes, I use colour more arbitrarily so as to express myself more forcibly???
At the end of his life Van Gogh suffered from fits of depression and actual breakdown which influenced his artwork. His pictures were full of emotional intensity as he struggled to paint during periods of calm between the distresses of his delusional fits.

In 1890 Van Gogh painted a picture called Almond Blossom, which was a painting of a tree that was influenced by Japanese art. ???Almond tree??™ is a symbol of new life which ties in with the purpose of the painting. This painting was for his newborn Nephew named Vincent Willem. This artwork reflects the time Van Gogh was intensely interested in Japanese art because of the way it made him feel happier with the bright colors and decorative patterns. He recreated Japan on a canvas as if he were living in it. This particular tree was in South France and it would bloom early as if it was announcing ???spring was coming??™, Van Gogh borrowed this theme from Japanese art. One of Van Gogh??™s favorite subjects was ???blossoming branches against a blue sky??™ and he had painted this subject more than once during his time in Paris. This particular artwork gives an audience insight into the artist??™s world, and what he is like. The characteristics this artwork displays to an audience is joy and happiness, it gives out a sense of life and free spirit and that is exactly what Van Gogh wanted just before he died. He explains that he felt like??™ he was in a cage, but to have freedom- to be a bird like the other birds??™. He wanted that spirit of freedom that he displayed in his artwork. This painting gives an audience the impression that Japanese art became something of a religion to him, he observed everything around him as if it were through ???Japanese eyes??™ and in this way he noticed the tiniest details in the natural setting.


Rene Magritte grew up in Brussels, Belgium, which at the time was a country torn by conflict between two ethnic groups. Foreign observers gained the impression that this was a country with a character all its own, a ???surrealist??? character. Magritte??™s Belgium background led to his sense of absurdity and most definitely his art style of Surrealism he adopted later on in his life. At an early age Magritte loved to draw and paint but as he got older he liked to refuse the name of artist, saying that he was a man who thought, who communicated his thought by painting. Magritte had the searching mind of a philosopher rather than the aesthetic and painterly qualities of a painter; we can link this idea to his strange, puzzling painting

During World War 1 Magritte was amongst other Belgians propagating the idea of the Dadiest culture movement, and this is where he developed his signature techniques while working as a commercial artist designing wallpapers, posters, music covers etc. In 1922 Magritte became close friends with Victor Sewranckx who had a very geometric style- this style became the new direction of art for Magritte. After a while Magritte realized that resorting to abstraction has not enabled him to ???make reality manifest??™, he wanted to establish a relationship between world and objects, and he began to search for different pictorial language and he found that in cubism and futurism.
Magritte??™s first exhibition was in 1927 but critics??™ heaped abuse on this exhibition leaving Magritte depressed with failure. Soon after, he decided to move to Paris and became apart of a surrealist group where his ideas were never idle phantasmagoria, they represented nothing but unborn realities for him
In the 1920??™s the surrealism movement spread throughout the globe affecting art and philosophy.
Surrealism is the combination of out of place images; it developed out of the dada activities in WW1 where the coverage of art, politics and culture were discussed through media.
In 1930 Magritte left Paris and abandoned the surrealist mileu (environment) and moved back to Brussels where he was regarded as the centre of the group of innovators (avant-garde).
Magritte??™s artworks weren??™t intended to represent or mean anything. If people asked him want his painting meant he would say ???if we look at a thing with the intention of discovering what it means, we end up no longer seeing the thing for itself??™. He considered his work successful when no explanation could be drawn for it. People had always tried to look for symbolic meanings to Magritte??™s picture??™s, and in some cases managed to find them. Nothing caused him greater displeasure.
Magritte ??“ Images are to be looked at not into

In 1957 Rene Magritte painted a picture called ???the ignorant fairy??™, this picture if an exact representation of his surrealist painting style with a combination of dreamlike and material things which all together seem out of place images all in the one picture. The painting shows a series of images that all merge together in an unexpected juxtaposition (side by side). This painting gives us insight into the reminiscence of Magritte??™s time at the annual fair when he was a young boy; the fair had a merry-go-round salon. This experience influenced him later to paint the; ignorant fairy??™ which is a fresco cycle painting. This painting is capable of performing a magic whose sense it does not discern, as Magritte states it??™s a ???Sense which is impossible???.
Magritte painted this picture for the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi. The name ???ignorant fair??™ was given to this artwork because it was a very imaginary, ???fairylike??™ painting.

The experiences of the artists Vincent Van Gogh and Rene Magritte have influenced the ideas of their artworks throughout their lives. Vincent Van Gogh was an artist who expressed his feelings and emotions through art where as Magritte expressed is philosophical thoughts and ideas through art. They both used painting as a way of expressing themselves just as poets expressed themselves through poetry. Van Gogh loved Japanese art and we could clearly see that through his use of bright colours and decorative patterns. Magritte??™s main style was surrealism and this was heavily evident in his work as it came across as odd, mysterious and without explanation. Both artists have interpreted their world and experiences through their artworks.

Alisha Spicer

Wordcount: 1,530


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